King Street pilot becomes permanent

TTCriders call for prioritizing transit in other busy areas

City Council made the King Street Pilot project permanent on Tuesday at an Executive Committee vote. 

“One of the principle objectives we have as a city, is to get people to use public transport more and we have facilitated that with this initiative,” Mayor Tory said at the meeting.

Tory also said that the project had brought fairly immediate results with relatively minimal investments. 

The Council voted 22-3 in favour of making the project permanent, which prioritizes streetcars over private vehicles between Bathurst and Jarvis streets.

The general manager of transportation services said at the meeting that during peak hours, the project has facilitated a 3.2 per cent increase in riders who travel in and out of the downtown core, while decreasing the number of private vehicles in and out of the core by four per cent . 

“The King Street Transit Pilot was an experiment in city-building. It demonstrated that with bold action, we can make the city work better. Now we can get to work on making it even better,” said Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York) at the meeting.

Anna Lermer from TTCriders said to The Dialog that their transit advocacy organization wants the city to build on the success that the King Street pilot has demonstrated and move forward with prioritizing public transit over other vehicles in other areas of the city.

During the pilot, TTC ridership on the 504 King streetcar was up nearly 17 per cent to 84,000 riders per day and afternoon peak period travel times for transit improved by approximately four to five minutes from about 25 minutes down to 20 minutes. 

Lermer said that the city has been studying other areas where the same strategy as the King Street pilot could be implemented. Areas like Lawrence Avenue West, Keele Street and Duffrein north of Bloor could benefit from prioritizing public transport, she added.

“King street pilot shows us what is possible by making relatively small investments in changing the way that our roads are designed to give transit the priority that it needs to be reliable,” Lermer said. 

“Many studies already have identified areas where ridership is high, and buses are routinely stuck behind traffic.” she added.

TTCriders also recommends extending the corridor of the King Street project further. Lermer said that areas like Liberty Village, Parkdale, Distillery district and a corridor between Dufferin and Parliament could benefit from prioritization of streetcars.

Lermer also stressed that different transit advocacy organizations think that the success of King Street pilot is a prime example of how low investment can improve the number of ridership as opposed to a multi billion dollar proposed project like the one-stop Scarborough Subway.

“There is no comparison between the two. It cost three million to make King Street pilot permanent,” Lermer said.

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King Street pilot becomes permanent